Nietzsche & The Higher Man

In the book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche put forth the idea of the overman or the higher man is what each individual should attempt to become. The higher man is an individual who follows his or her own path and not the path set by the mob. The higher man must face what makes him or her uncomforable or what they fear. Laslty, the higher man is a process, it is a becoming, you are constantly recreating the path and in doing so, taking action in your life.

One cannot be concerned with the mob, with the popular opinion, with popularity itself when it comes to becoming the higher man. The mob isn’t concerned about the higher man because the mob praises equality above the rest. But with equality comes the tearing down of someone who is attempting to achieve more, to become more than what he or she is. The insistence on equality results in the barrier against reaching ones full potential for equality is used as a weapon so the individual settles for contentment.

I stood in the market place. And I spoke to all, I spoke to none.

Of what concern to me are market and mob and mob noise and long mob ears?

The higher man must look inwards. This individual is concerned with himself and that may sound narcissistic however the idea is that in order to help others, one must help himself first. In this manner, when you focus on yourself and your own actions and you right your actions, then, it can have a trickle down effect on those around you. So, by helping yourself you come to help others.

I have the overman at heart, that is my first and only concern–and not man: not the neighbor, not the poorest, not the most ailing, not the best.

This desire to help others can be dangerous in a sense as well. What is the reason behind your help? Does your aid cripple the individual? Are you helping to make yourself feel better? Is your help a way to stay comfortable and not confront your own mistakes?

Both helping and equality are terms that are viewed highly in most cultures. However, this is what Nietzsche wants recreated by the individual. The reason being that one may help others and in doing so make themselves feel good but also take away the opportunity of growth from another and hence, be there to be helped again at a later point. While, equality is a good virtue but it can also mean stiffling your potential in order to fit in with the rest of the group rather then fully expressing yourself, attempting to reach your potential and becoming “unequal”.

Nietzsche furthermore put forth the idea that one must follow the “nausea” by which he meant that thing that is disagreeable to the mob. It is with this nausea as ones guide that you can discover what is truly important. In a way, one must keep open to exploring that thing which makes the mob uncomfortable, for it may be in this nausea that you find your way. The mob on the other hand is concerned with smaller virtues, they are small people who are enveloped in things that are of temporary concern.

Overcome these masters of today, O my brothers–these small people, they are the overman’s greatest danger.

You higher men, overcome the small virtues, the small prudence, the grain-of-sand consideration, the ants’ riffraff, the wretched contentment, the “happiness of the greatest number”!

The mob rules without reason and hence cannot be reasoned with. So, the higher man must have a mistrust towards such a group.

And in the marketplace once convinces with gestures. But reason makes the mob mistrustful.

In order to reach for the higher man, to become the overman, the individual must posses courage. For the path can be lonely and in more than one way, it must be lonely. The individual needs solitude in this attempt to be separated from the consensus thought and action so one can discover their own thoughts and their own “whys”. Furthermore, the higher man must have courage because the individual has to face the abyss. This must be done willingly, choosing to face the uncomfortable in their life. What they have been avoiding, what they fear, this is precisely what the higher man must encounter and then, attack. This courage is important when you are alone. When no one is watching. For the internal struggles are your own, so your courage must be your own too and not one that is inspired by others because that is not true courage. That courage will leave once people leave but that internal uncomfortability will still be there and that needs to be attacked with courage.

Do you have courage, O my brothers? Are you brave? Not courage before witnesses but the courage of hermits and eagles, which is not longer watched even by a god.

Cold souls, mules, the blind, and the drunken I do not call brave. Brave is he who knows fear but conquers fear, who see the abyss, but with pride.

Who sees the abyss but with eyes of an eagle who grasps the abyss with the talons of an eagle–that man has courage.

Furthermore, the higher man must go on his own. The path is unique to the individual and so, he must not rely on others to help him climb. When one rides the accomplishments of others in order to create their own self esteem or self-identity, they are essentially robbing themselves of the effort and with it the experience gained from the effort and the eventual reward. Also, through this when the time comes to walk on your own two feet, you will find the ground to be unstable, foot steps that don’t match your stride for you did not earn your place here. Then, keeping your place will be impossible because you did not know the struggle.

If you would go high, use your own legs. Do not let yourselves be carried up; do not sir on the backs and heads of others. But you mounted a horse? You are now riding quickly up to your goal? All right, my friend! But your lame foot is sitting on the horse too. When you reach your goal, when you jump off your horse–on your very height, you higher man, you will stumble.

The higher man needs to know himself. What he is capable of? What are his standards? His principles? What can he achieve? How much can you work? How many hours can you go for? This is important because by knowing your boundaries, then you can slowly push further, inch by inch, expanding yourself and what you know and what you can do. You do not overreach in this manner. Rather you use the zone of proximal development, carefully testing your limits and improving.

Do not be virtuous beyond your strength! And do not desire anything of yourselves against probability.

Lastly, the higher man must attempt. He must act. He must live. With this notion comes failure but failure needs to be viewed as possibility for growth. If you fail, then you recreate, you question what you knew that led to that failure, understand what you know now and attempt once more and when you fail again, you recreate once more, endlessly, recreating, questioning, attempting and recreating and in this manner, you are living or as Nietzsche puts it, dancing and laughing.

You higher men, the worst about you is that all of you have not learned to dance as one must dance–dancing away over yourselves! What does it matter that you are failures? How much is still possible! So learn to laugh away over yourselves! Life up your hearts, you good dancers, high, higher! And do not forget good laughter.

Essay: Kafka & The Consequences of Set Truth

Franz Kafka in the story, “A Comment”, speaks of the importance of finding one’s own path in life, discovering one’s own truth (p. 161). However, when one constructs an understanding around their own truth to the point where this truth is set in the individual’s mind, it can lead to biased thinking and sometimes even harmful consequences.

In the “Penal Colony”, the officer’s belief in the truth of his predecessor leads him to develop a dogmatic approach which not only causes him harm but also blurs his understanding of right and wrong. This is demonstrated by the character of the condemned man who is sentenced without having an opportunity to defend himself for the officer believes that the condemned man’s words would be lies while his own judgment is correct (p. 40). The officer’s dogmatic thinking is a result of the past traditions and how things used to be and as a consequence, the officer associates himself with the institution. While the character of the researcher helps contrast the officer’s truth with his own views as the researcher believes the punishment and sentencing to be inhumane and the procedure to lack justice (p. 46). The officer cannot relate to this point of view because it would interfere with his set truth. This idea is taken to the extreme in the story by Kafka for the officer rather condemn himself in the name of justice rather than realizing his own wrong actions and perhaps confronting what he had acknowledged to be true and by doing so, create some new understanding (p. 54).

The theme of judgment and truth is visited in “The Judgement” as well. Kafka displays the consequences of adopting someone else’s truth as your own. Such truth is harder to escape when it comes from an authority figure. In the “Penal Colony”, the officer takes upon his truth because it is related to his predecessor, to the past tradition, hence giving it authority and in “The Judgement”, the truth is that of the narrator’s father, who has always been an authoritative figure in the narrator’s life (p. 6). By taking on this truth, it results in the narrator’s death (p. 12) and similarly, the officer’s death.

Viewing life through one’s own truth is observed in “Josephine, the Singer or The Mouse People” story. Kafka demonstrates a contrasting point of view as the narrator of the text has a different opinion of Josephine and her abilities compared to what Josephine regards to be the truth (pp. 99-100). Josephine has her own truth and in which she believes her art to be important, so much so, that she believes that others need her and her singing (p. 103). The narrator disagrees and even believes if Josephine were to disappear, she would not be missed (p. 108). Furthermore, her truth can be harmful. Due to the fact that she is a popular artist, this allows for large gatherings and the narrator informs the reader that on more than one occasion such large gatherings have resulted in tragedy for it made it easier for predators to find and hunt them (p. 103). However, Josephine believes that she is needed when tragic episodes occur in the community, she believes that her squealing helps people. Here, Kafka shows how ones own truth can bring about contradictory results for her gatherings can cause tragedies as well.

In “Researches of a Dog”, although the narrator attempts a research project, his approach is muddled with his existing biases. In a way, the narrator takes his premise as a conclusion and in doing so, his truth is set and this causes him misunderstanding or at least stops him from viewing things beyond his premise (pp. 132-133). A clear example of this is the fact that the narrator does not perceive human beings (133). He is focused on this belief that food either comes from the dogs wetting the ground or else, it falls from the skies. It is in this narrow view that causes the narrator not to consider an alternative. Kafka is able to demonstrate the constraints truth can have on the individual if they believe it to be the only truth. Furthermore, set truths without flexibility can even cause the individual harm. This is shown in the narrators choice of self-deprivation in order to prove his point. In doing so, the narrator adopts a fasting lifestyle which is contradictory to the communities way of living and this leads to the point where he loses consciousness (pp. 155-157). Additionally, In an attempt to seek his truth, the narrator slowly becomes distant from his community. The narrow thinking brought on by his believed truth results not only in self-harm but also in ostracization (p. 150). 

However, by exploring what he thought to be the truth, it results in the narrator opening himself to what he did not know. In the text, “A Page from an Old Document”, Kafka explores the notion of how by facing the outside, the unknown, it can have an effect on what you had considered to be the truth and so, it can change your truth (pp. 66-67). Similarly, the research dog adds to his research with the inclusion of music in his next project (p. 160).

In “The Burrow”, the narrator gives himself a simple narrative, something that grounds his reality, this being the importance of his abode (p. 170). For the narrator does not feel danger when he is with his passages, chambers and above all, his castle court (p. 177). Here, Kafka visits similar themes explored in the “Researches of a Dog”, for his truth, the simple narrative, has caused him to be isolated from others (p. 173). However, unlike the research dog where the alienation was taken on in order to search for the truth, in “The Burrow”, the alienation is a result of his truth. Furthermore, unlike the “Penal Colony” where the officer never challenged his set truth, in “The Burrow”, the narrator is forced to come to terms that the narrative he has given himself may be false. Kafka showcases this through the foreign sound the narrator begins to hear (p. 178). Due to the fact that the burrow is supposed to be protective, this intruding sound causes the narrator to panic especially when he gives in to the notion that the sound is perhaps coming from something that can cause him harm (p. 181). Furthermore, Kafka also put forth the notion of how when one invests a lot of time in something, the importance of that thing becomes greater and hence, that individual is more likely to affirm their truth because they don’t want to realize that their effort and time was spent on something useless (p. 187). The fact that the narrator has spent so much time working on his burrow, to the point that it has caused him self-harm and deprived him of sleep when he is forced to change his narrative, the narrator finds himself in a disorganized state of mind.

The text is unfinished but perhaps, “A Report to the Academy” can give hints to how having his truth shatter would have affected the narrator. For in, “A Report to the Academy”, the notion that one can transform due to the necessity to survive is explored (p. 80). The narrator of the text learns human mannerism and this allows him to escape captivity. Similarly, in “The Burrow”, the narrator may have had to develop a new thought pattern or a new truth in order to deal with the loss of his simple narrative.

Kafka’s texts act as a cautionary tales towards the notion of accepting ones own truth as the only truth. For this narrow point of view can result in misunderstanding and in some cases cause the individual harm or worse, harm others.

Understanding The Ordinary Men Who Massacred The Innocent

The question that is explored In The Ordinary Men by Christopher R. Browning, is how the Reserve Police Battalion 101, that was comprised of normal German civilians, were transformed and were able to participate in the massacre of innocent Jews during the Second World War. Additionally, what does this say of human nature?

An important fact that needs to be acknowledged is that the soldiers and the officers involved in the terrible acts were aware of their actions and how wrong they were. Major Trapp offered the soldiers a way out of committing the act in turn showing that he understood the severity of their actions.

Trapp then made an extraordinary offer: if any of the older men among them did not feel up to the task that lay before him, he could step out. (p. 2)

Neither did the German leadership lack awareness of the psychological damage such acts can cause upon the soldiers involved. For the following order by, Colonel Montua of the Police Regiment Centre was issued:

The battalion and company commanders are especially to provide for the spiritual care of the men who participate in this action. (p. 14)

Additionally, the soldiers also understood how evil their actions were.

Upon learning of the imminent massacre, Buchmann made clear to Hagen that as a Hamburg businessman and reserve lieutenant, he “would in no case participate in such an action, which defenseless women and children are shot.” He asked for another assignment. (p. 56)

However, not every soldier protested and neither did they take Trapp’s offer to step out of the killing line. The two main reasons provided by the text to why the soldiers continued to participate with the killings even though they had opportunities not to are conformity and habitation.

Conformity is defined as a behavior in accordance with socially accepted conventions or standards. The main reason why soldiers conformed was that they did not want to be viewed as cowards by their fellow soldiers and neither did they wish to separate themselves from the group.

Nonetheless, the act of stepping out that morning in Jozefow meant leaving one’s comrades and admitting that one was “too weak” or “cowardly.” Who would have “dared,” one policeman declared emphatically, to “lose face” before the assembled troops. “If the question is posed to me why I shot with the others in the first place,” said another who subsequently asked to be excused after several rounds of killing, “I must answer that no one wants to be thought a coward.” (p. 72)

The predicament the soldiers found themselves in was simple, either be good and not commit the horrible evil but be labeled as a coward and be ostracized by the group or commit the evil act and be accepted. Here there is an example of how adaptable man can be. In order to deal with the psychological knowledge of what they were doing, some of the soldiers began to rationalize their actions as if they were the ones doing good. One such rationalization was that whether or not they took part in the shooting, those Jewish civilians were going to die. However, it the second kind that was even worse as a thirty-five-year-old metalworker said:

I made the effort, and it was possible for me, to shoot only children. It so happened that the mothers led the children by the hand. My neighbor then shot the mother and I shot the child that belonged to her, because I reasoned with myself that after all without its mother the child could not live any longer. It was supposed to be, so to speak, soothing to my conscience to release children unable to live without their mothers. (p. 73)

Another feature of man’s ability to adapt to the demands of the environment can be seen in the case of habituation. The initial killing was difficult but with time and with more “practice” such an act became easier and easier and less psychologically demanding because this was what was asked of the participating soldiers.

Habituation played a role as well. Having killed once already, the men did not experience such a traumatic shock the second time. Like much else, killing was something one could get used to. (p. 85)

Once killing began, however, the men became increasingly brutalized. As in combat, the horrors of the initial encounter eventually became routine, and the killing became progressively easier. In this sense, brutalization was not the cause but the effect of the these men’s behavior. (p. 161)

In the months since Jozefow many had become numb, indifferent, and in some cases eager killers; others limited their participation in the killing process, refraining when they could do so without great cost or inconvenience. Only a minority of nonconformists managed to preserve a beleaguered sphere of moral autonomy that embodied them to employ patters of behavior and strategems of envaion that kept them from becoming killers at all. (p. 127)

So, even the horrible in us can persevere. Which for me raises the question of if there is inherent evil in us. In the book, Ervin Staub raises this notion of how evil that comes from ordinary thinking and is acted upon by ordinary people is the norm and not the exception, meaning that acting in an evil manner is not “special” to us and that each one of us is capable of it (p. 167). Zygmunt Bauman, on the other hand, proposes the notion that man adapts to the role provided by the society he or she is in (167). The soldiers in the reserve police battalion 101 needed to be killers and so, they became killers.

For me, I tend to believe them both. I do not think that man is inherently good or evil but is capable of it and does have both of these aspects in them. However, for the most part, man is adaptable and he or she adapts to their environment. This brings up the importance of individual thinking or at the very least, individual principles and limits. For, by following the group and falling into the herd mentality, one is likely to act in a manner that is despicable if that is what the herd demands.

If there is one thing I take away from this book it would be this: Realizing and understanding that I too would have acted like these soldiers if I were in their position.

This realization has made me question the way I act and the standards I hold myself up too because it is clear that if I were to find myself in such a horrible position, I would like to think that I would act honorably and resist the evil. However, that can only be done if I act with honor and speak the truth at this very moment and hold myself up to a high standard so that if I were in such a position, I would not need to hope but rather, I would know that I will do the right thing, regardless of the consequences.

Such standards are what I aim at. At the moment I am far away from them. It is a vulnerable thing to understand how easily man, including myself, is able to follow the instructions of the herd without acting upon his or her own individual thoughts. This text brings forth the understanding of this vulnerable position and I am glad I can think and act in the correct manner now instead of being forced into the boots of those German civilians and having to adapt to the reality of their situation. Ultimately, what this text does is that it shows the senseless killing of so many innocent human beings and serves as a reminder of the potential of both good or evil that is embedded in each one of us.

Lastly, in case anyone who reads this is under the impression that by trying to understand the Nazi soldiers, I or the text in any way try to justify their actions, I would like to finish with Christopher Browning’s statement on this topic and as well the words of the French Jewish historian Marc Bloch.

Explaning is not excusing, understanding is not forgiving. (p. xx)

“When all is said and done, a single word, ‘understanding,’ is the beacon light of our studies.” (p. xx)

 

 

 

Essay: The Becoming of The Overman

In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche is able to establish the core of his philosophical doctrine through use of a parabolic story. The central point of the message is that of the overman and Nietzsche argues that the overman is the ultimate destination of humans (p. 12). Through the parable of Zarathustra, Nietzsche puts forth the idea that the overman is a state of becoming that can be attained by following ones own body and will.

Zarathustra claims that the human is something that must be overcome (p. 13). The reason for this is because the human being is considered a bridge between a beast and the overman. The human is still transforming and becoming and it is the overman that the human must become (p. 14). This becoming is accompanied by a degree of faith in the belief that the human can be something more than it is right now and through sacrifice, one can invent the overman (p. 15). Zarathustra demonstrates this sacrifice at the start of the parable, by first leaving mankind for the mountains and then, after many years, descending from the mountains. Each time sacrificing his comfort and his accustomed way of life in order to seek the uncomfortable unknown (pp. 9-10). Another comfort that must be sacrificed is the thought of the afterlife (p. 13).

The acceptance of the idea that God is dead is needed because Zarathustra believes that such a concept creates false hope. It is something that brings order through fear and with it, restricts the full experience of life (p. 261). Instead, the overman is loyal to the earth and understands that there is nothing outside of the earth so, one’s life must have meaning in the present instead of living for the afterlife (p. 31). It is through the body and senses that one comes to associate him or herself with the earth and dissociate themselves from God. Hence, the body becomes the guide and this parable can be viewed as empowering, for it means that all one needs is themselves, to look inwards to find their path in life (pp. 85-86). This concept of inner strength is visited throughout the parable and in particular, with the reference to the winter for like winter, Zarathustra believes that he has a strength which is yet to be uncovered because at the moment it is concealed (p. 174).

This inner strength leads towards the will to power, which, is the idea that one brings their own thoughts and observations towards everything they encounter in life (pp. 112-113). It’s almost a childlike curiosity where one does not take anything at face value but rather seeks a deeper understanding and explanation. Will to power is a procreative will of life. A life that is created by you, through your own experiences and your own reflections of those experiences. Thus, it’s a life that is your own (112-113).

Due to the emphasis on the individual, Zarathustra puts forth the argument that one cannot become the overman by following others because by following, one becomes an imitator, a trickster who does not comprehend the teachings, like the character of the Magician (p. 255) or “Zarathustra’s ape” (pp. 175-178). Instead one must follow their own command (p. 200). By following one’s own senses, Zarathustra opens himself towards chance. Although having trust in chance can be daunting, Zarathustra proceeds to teach that this trust is what is needed in order to become the overman for through the trust of chance, one comes to face what they wish not to face and this is when growth can take place (pp.154-155). Similar to Zarathustra, one must overcome the distrust towards uncertainty in order to move towards the overman (p. 163).

Through this trust and the will to power one comes to create their own path. A subjective path that only they can walk upon. The reason being, there is no universal “way” or “path,” rather it is all based on the individual and their own experiences, which adds to the idea that one has to lead their own life, rather than follow (p. 195). So, Zarathustra’s way of life is his own way.

Additionally, it is not enough to just create but one must also recreate (p. 202). The creation and recreation of one’s own thoughts are demonstrated when Zarathustra speaks of the three great human sins. Instead of thinking about them as sins, he puts forth this notion of how each can be considered good if one is able to go beyond the constraints of human thought. In this way, selfishness comes to be viewed as an important part of achieving the overman rather than simply considering selfishness as a character flaw (p. 193).

It is in the creation of the overman that one must be selfish. Zarathustra teaches how selfishness can be used as a filter to allow only those things that bring self-enjoyment into your life while casting away whatever is considered contemptible (p. 195). This is your own happiness. The things that you consider to be good for you or evil for you. Not what has been considered good or evil. It is a personal creation of life that one must seek and in order for this to take place, one has to be selfish (p. 193). It is a type of self-love that Nietzsche, through the parable fo Zarathustra, tries to teach.

However, this selfishness comes under contest if the herd is allowed to dominate. Hence,  the herd becomes something that one must avoid for the herd puts the “you” before the “I” (p. 60-61). The herd makes the individual follow established norms and takes away the creative process of life. Through this, one’s own intuition takes a back seat to the herd mentality of the group (p. 9).

This is why solitude is important to Zarathustra. Through solitude, Zarathustra is able to cleanse himself from the thoughts of the herd and the norms which have been established without the will to power (p. 145). It is in the solitude that one can connect with their intuitions or inner thoughts. The thoughts that come when the hour is the stillest bring with them humility for they allow one to realize what they already know, which, is that there is more to them. The human they are at the moment is not all they can be and through their own actions they can become more (pp. 145-147). Such an idea is central to the parable of Zarathustra for he urges all people to go beyond themselves. Solitude is one of the ways this can be accomplished.

Ultimately, the parable of Zarathustra is not one of the character, Zarathustra, becoming the overman. Rather it is the process of how one can become the overman. Zarathustra is a prelude to such a being (p. 209). Which is why when he speaks of the old tablets and the new ones, he shows that even these new tablets are unfinished. They are left uncompleted for the next being to write on and the tablets will always be uncompleted for the future generations to rewrite and recreate (p. 198). This recreation is fundamental to the concept of the overman and Zarathustra demonstrates this concept at the end of the parable as well when he detaches from his new friends because part of self-overcoming is not to get attached to established norms, even if they are created through the will to power (p. 327).

In this way, the parable of Zarathustra works as an example of becoming. Zarathustra is never satisfied with what he has said or what he has done rather he looks to create more and to question what he knows. As well, he uses his body as a guide. This process allows Zarathustra to edge closer to the fundamental concept of Nietzsche, the overman, for the overman is always becoming too.

Essay: Articulation of Subjective Experience

The central dilemma of the novel, The Passion According to G.H. is that of self identity (p. 167). However, due to the subjective nature of such a task and Lispector’s use of an unreliable narrator, the issue arises in articulating the process of discovering one’s identity. These issues correspond with various philosophical modes of thought such as how accurately can we relate information to one another? How much can we learn from other peoples experiences? Can our experience be comprehended fully? How can we share that which is sensed or felt?

Prior to going down the path of self discovery, G.h’s identity is made up of the expectations of others as she says “I treat myself as others treat me, I am whatever others see of me (p. 17).”

This can be seen as a comfortable existence for there is a lack of responsibility that comes with this (p. 23). Such a life is one that can be conceptualized and labeled in order to be explained. However, G.h attempts to question this identity and what she thinks she knows after her experience with the cockroach. This attempt is simply summed up by the opening sentence of the novel, “I’m searching. I’m searching (p. 3).” This search for herself could be viewed as an ongoing process and in that case, her ability to make sense of what she is still going through and what she is still feeling could be limited because it has not ended and the search might never end.

In G.h’s search for personal identity, she comes to do the inverse of what a sculptor does. A sculptor moulds a formless thing into something with form. While, G.h. strips away the form that she has constructed for herself in order to revert back to the formless (p. 6).

This loss of human form comes by attacking the concepts and constructions which had previously organized her life. One such instance is her understanding of beauty. She had understood beauty as something pretty but after her experience, she comes to realize that beauty is something beyond the external and now it is remote to her (p. 81). G.h even uses the term love as she understands it now as a tool to help strip down the constructed human she had been (p. 131).

The human constructions which G.h breaks down lead her to a deeper understanding of herself but at the same time brings forth an issue of articulating her experience for what she is feelings cannot be fully comprehended by her and what she does comprehend is accompanied by a lack of meaning. This makes the task of communicating her experience rather difficult (p. 111).

With her artistic nature, she wishes to see what goes unseen, express the inexpressive, that thing which is between two numbers or between two musical notes and this happens to be a mystery and she cannot guarantee that she has the ability to accomplish such a task (p. 99). At least not in her present condition.

G.h further reflects that “only later would I understand: what seems like a lack of meaning — that’s the meaning. Every moment of “lack of meaning” is precisely the frightening certainty that that’s exactly what it means (p. 27).” One can argue that the lack of meaning is what we all share and when meaning is added to the equation it creates differences. However the issue arises how does one explain what lacks meaning? And what might lack meaning to one individual might have meaning for another. The articulation of the lack of meaning can be a barrier to completely explain the experience G.h is going through. This barrier is further compounded by the use of language. In philosophy, certain concepts cannot be translated, cannot be put into words and be neatly explained. G.h struggles with this reality as she writes to the reader.

Throughout the novel, G.h constantly refers to things like “a name without word (p. 151)”, “that thing, whose name I don’t know (p. 84)”, “I don’t know what I am calling God (p. 157)” and other instances of this line of thought. There is this notion that what she is experiencing or has experienced is beyond herself and beyond the concepts of man and hence, she cannot organize it into written text. There is a degree of difficulty in communicating her experience due to the subjective nature of this experience.

This leads her to accept a level of incommunicability as she says “but I am the one who must stop myself from giving a name to the thing. The name is an accretion, and blocks contact with the thing. The name of the thing is an interval for the thing (p.147).” Perhaps naming this experience will humanize it, chain it with the human concepts which she is trying to remove. 

Additionally, G.h says that “reality precedes the voice that seeks it (p.185)”, her experience comes and she lives it and in that moment she may have some understanding of it but afterwards, when her voice tries to recall that reality, it fails. A reason for this is also that only through passion does she live this reality of hers but that passion leaves after a brief moment and it cannot be captured (p. 181).

There is also this notion that her experience is one that is sensed or felt by the body rather than one that is understood through speech. “And I shall not wander “from thought to thought,” but from mood to mood (p. 182).” G.h makes this connection that this state she is attempting to reach, the inhuman, the inexpressive, the neutral, it is a state that is a mood, a feeling, a sensation and if that is the case then the articulation of this idea comes upon certain limitations. She argues that in her search for God, she gave in to her temptations of seeing and feeling (p. 132), further solidifying the notion of a bodily knowledge. In order to comprehend her, one has to feel what she has felt.

Even her symbolic steps into the paradise of hell are accompanied by bodily reactions of sweating and dryness (p. 70). Through this, G.h makes an association between bodily reaction and the neutral. Perhaps this is her way of showing that you can trust your body to guide towards the inexpressive. That if you are to go towards the neutral you will know it by the way your body feels.

However, the subjective nature of such a thing cannot be overlooked. Neither can the lack of understanding and use of language to articulate her journey. At the end of it, G.h goes through something personal and something that is real to her and as the reader you are along for the ride and have to accept a lack of clarity as G.h herself attempts to understand what she has gone through and is still going through. This harken backs to the philosophical understanding that life is never complete, one does not ever fully understand, the process of life is ongoing.